Archives: December 2013

Nashville, TN, late February, 2012

The following day at work I was scheduled with—I remember this time—Denis and a girl who goes by “Blonski.” Denis is a drifting guy…he’s lived in Nashville for half a year, and before that he lived in several other cities in the south, moving around on whims, just for a change of scenery. You have to admire that. Who has the courage to do that these days? It shows a disregard for careers, relationships, and stability—the shit everyone wants, or is supposed to want. To be willingly adrift in the confused miasma of contemporary life, and not suffocate, that’s something.

Blonski grew up on Long Island, which showed—more than she thought, I thought. Her accent was closer to mine than any southern or Midwestern accent I’ve heard, and she lacked the warmth of southerners whom I’ve met. In fact from the point of view of warmth, she left something to be desired. Her demeanor seemed to say: ‘don’t get up in my shit.’ She told me she was moving to NYC in a week or so, so we talked about that. But even with the ice thus broken, having found something to talk about, she still had a defensive air about her. At one point she was talking with Denis, relaying an anecdote about someone who had called her ‘granola.’ This was a lighthearted conversation they were having, it seemed to me. I put in that the she definitely wasn’t ‘granola,’ though her earth-brown pants might be misleading. To this innocent remark she retorted “you don’t know me,” and I realized she was offended somehow. That was it, I soured to her after that, am still soured to her in fact, in my memories, and I felt glad that she was leaving soon.

Later that night I went to dinner with Lewis, Abe, and Martin. We quickly settled into an easy rapport. At Brown’s Diner the waitress wouldn’t let Lewis order a BBQ sandwich because they’re known for their burgers, not their BBQ. We got some laughs out of that. When I asked for a coffee after we’d ordered a pitcher of beer she said, “you’re going to have a wide-awake drunk.” I quote verbatim. It did pep me up more than expected and I found myself becoming loquacious.

I spoke of the situation with Marianne. What situation? Don’t worry about it. I had been getting text messages from her regularly, many of which used exclamation points! in an un-ironic way, and I wondered what to do or say. We joked that maybe sending her a dick pic would be the best way to determine what she actually wanted from me. That’s the kind thing that eventually comes up when guys get together and drink, what can I say. This thought experiment of sorts gave me the idea for this.

At the bar we ran into a group of Spanish graduate students, some from Spain, other from South America, whom Abe knew. They insisted that he stay for another drink with them, but he was too tired. Everyone was too tired, except for me on account of the coffee. They seemed like good, lively company so I stuck around. Santiago talked about literature and Latin American cinema with me. We discussed our admiration for Beckett. Great conversation. Eventually, filled with beers, I scouted the scene for girls. One can’t always remain on a higher plane, the baser exigencies beckon. Unfortunately I encountered that eternal dilemma, that is, I realized I was not quite drunk enough to not feel like, what’s the word, a complete idiot, if I started talking to strangers. And built into this phrase is also the implication that if I got drunk ‘enough,’ then I would be acting like an idiot all the same.

So I did the mature thing, and went home. Perhaps me hitting on girls would have made a nice little passage, but just as the reader is probably growing tired of this sort of thing, so was I, so am I, since I am my own reader, in a sense.

Nashville, TN, February 21, 2012

The day after the accident I had to wake up early for an 8am shift. Even earlier, given that I had to walk. I was working with Annie and—and I can’t tell you who, not only do I forget her fictitious name, but also her real name, and her gender, he might have been a man, who knows. Perhaps there wasn’t even another person, and in a sense there wasn’t.

The days, or those days I should say, or maybe I mean both, were starting to blend together, even in light of my accident, which was a punctuating sort of event. I wondered: is very little happening, or am I just not paying enough attention? Same question for the present. The trouble with keeping records is that you realize how very little happens, that’s why it’s difficult to sustain the effort.

I told my bicycle accident story to Annie, not without some hesitation, however, because I didn’t want to seem to be vying for pity. Yet it might have been strange not to mention something like that; that could betray an excessive and self-conscious modesty, which is definitely a form of egoism worth avoiding—assuming I would have been conscious of the modesty, and I would have. I was vying for empathy, that’s it, or better yet sympathy; not pity, certainly not apathy. And also, simply, I was vying for an opportunity to tell a story, that can be enjoyable and it is, supposedly, what I do, here for instance.

After work it was laundry time, a chores as always, especially since I had to walk to the laundromat, not that I would have taken my bike, had I had it. Thankfully (thankfully!) along the way a very southern gentleman also doing his laundry picked me up in his truck and drove me there. I don’t know if my mom would approve of me getting in a stranger’s car, I joked. He guffawed.

I used to haul my laundry on foot just like you. And then for a while my girlfriend did it for me. Wish I still had that girlfriend! he said.

You’re telling me, I said.

Nashville, TN, February 19, 2012

The days following my diagnosis I felt out of sorts and depleted. I seemed to drift about, desultory, fatigued. As I said, I’m nearly always out of sorts, but not always depleted. This was probably a result of being sick, but I also attributed the malaise to metaphysical woes, that’s more my style. It seemed my body was giving up on me, it still seems that way sometimes. It can’t keep on like it used to.

I had a training to go to in the midst of all this, Coffee 101. I took my bike and made it to downtown. Then on 2nd Ave something hit me from behind. Suddenly I was on the pavement, watching my bike get dragged up the street by a Jeep. I felt deflated, just as the back tire was deflated, to be sure. I stood up and quickly felt that I wasn’t hurt. Except metaphysically, metaphysically I was wounded.

An argument with the driver ensued. He took an inordinate amount of time to get out of his car or even roll down the window, even while a young man in the back seat apologized. In retrospect I was not as hard on him as I should have been, might have been, would have liked to have been. I’m the not the assertive, masculine type—though neither am I dainty, don’t give it a second thought. The thought even crossed my mind that I may have been partially to blame, although I couldn’t see how. My conscious felt guilty, and surely I was guilty of something, in the grand scheme of my life. Ultimately we didn’t really get into it. A cruiser arrived and spoke to us individually. That is the cop who came out of the cruiser. He seemed to take my side, and mentioned that the driver, in addition to being cited for driving without insurance, was receiving a number of other citations. A menace to the road, in short.

Abe picked me up and took me to a bike store, where they confirmed that my bike was totaled. When I finally got home I lay down in bed. I had had intentions of running errands and going to the gym, but I didn’t have it in me. Lying down in the middle of the day always seems like an admission of defeat, but I was defeated.

Nashville, TN, Feb 18, 2012 (Swimmer’s Ear Part II)

My ear was aching when I woke up after my amorous night with Marianne. Wait, there was a woman in my life, at this juncture? She came and went, a flash in the pan if you will, don’t worry about it. My head felt clogged up, my hearing was off. So after deliberating for a while I decided a trip to the doctor was in order.

I have been to a lot of doctors, all sorts of specialists, and for problems that were embarrassing more often than not, so I am seasoned, so to speak, at speaking with medical personnel. There’s a good tone to strike with them for the best results, I believe: firm and assertive, yet polite, and not lacking in sense of humor.

A medical assistant took my blood pressure, temperature, and pulse. I always ask how these figures are doing; the absence of commentary, for me, is not reassurance enough. She said my vitals were A-okay. The doctor came in promptly after that and took a look in my ears. Straight down to business. There was too much wax built up for her to see anything, so she called the assistant to flush my ears out. Fun was in store.

The first part of the procedure entailed putting drops of fluid into my ears that were left to soak for about 15 minutes while they helped break up the wax. Incidentally, the medical assistant informed me that the over-the-counter stuff I’d bought was useless, wasted money, wasted time. I ruminated over various things while I waited. I had the following Intimate Thought: if only neurosis could be cleared away as ear-wax can be cleared away. Maybe I should look into psychedelics, I thought.

The assistant used a syringe-like devise to shoot warm water and peroxide into my ear canals to break up and dislodge the wax. It was a violent procedure and it produced a strange sensation in my head, whirling, swishing, swashing, and swooshing. She had considerable difficultly getting out the wax. You’re one of the most difficult cases I’ve seen, she said. You don’t know the half of it, I said.

I was patient throughout it all, and though it was violent, in a sense, it wasn’t actually painful. The assistant was pleasant to talk to and she cracked a joke now and then. If only I was better at remembering conversations. As I said I pride myself on my manners with medical professionals. One has to have at least some points of pride. For her I aired on the side of reticence, but let fall the occasional humorous remark.

When all was said and done, it turned out I did have an infection—I was a victim of the common affliction, swimmer’s ear.

Nashville, TN, February 17, 2012 (Swimmer’s Ear)

Friday morning I rode my bike to Bongo Java so I could catch my assistant manager and ask her about scheduling, but she wasn’t there. Tate, a young guy from Belmont whom I worked with once, was behind the counter and he gave me a free cup of coffee. I sat and read until I felt hungry and then I got a refill of coffee and an egg sandwich.

I smoked a cigarette with Tate while he was on his break. I was calm, relatively. The weather was fine. I breathed deeply and enjoyed the feeling of the cool air and the sunlight.

I asked Tate what his plans were after he graduated college. That’s one of those things you ask about. He explained that he wants to move to—no, I can’t go on, that’s his business. But I know that life sometimes throws you curve balls, he said. You better believe it, I replied.

I went swimming after that and pumped iron. I experienced the same philosophical dilemmas detailed in another post, which prevented me from really pumping to my max. When I got out of the pool my left ear was filled with water, and it wasn’t going to come out. I had even used ear plugs, to no avail.

Back at home the house was empty. There was a text on my phone from Lewis saying he’d be back in a few hours, then we would get dinner and go to the bar to get ripped.

I wasted time on the computer and a few times in the bathroom tried pouring alcohol into my stuffed-up ear, to no avail. I probably masturbated too, I have no specific memory of an onanistic moment, but that seems like something I would have done. I know myself, in that respect. When Lewis got back I renewed the effort. Unclogging my stuffed-up ear, that is. First I had him pour more alcohol into it—perhaps he might have more luck getting it in the right spot. It occurred to me that since the alcohol hadn’t helped before, perhaps all I was doing was making it worse. I pushed this worry aside. All that came of it was that rubbing alcohol splashed on the side of my face and in my hair.

After that, Lewis had the idea that we needed to use some kind of device to assure that the alcohol got where it needed to go, namely, into the ear canal. By now I admit I was troubled that copious amounts of alcohol had already been poured, to no avail. I was beginning to feel pain.

In a small sandwich bag with a hole poked in the corner Lewis poured some alcohol. This time I lay on the floor and he used the bag to aim. I waited for a few moments while the alcohol sat in my ear canal. Relief will come as soon as I sit upright, I thought. Nothing of the sort. There were some noises in my head, a little sloshing and swishing, but my hearing remained just as impaired, if not more.

I consulted several ehow pages in hopes of discovering different remedies. One suggested gargling with salt water. It didn’t make sense to me how that would change anything, but I tried it. Another page suggested using vinegar, so using the same make-shift device, Lewis poured vinegar into my ear as I lay down on the floor of my room. This also did nothing, and may have made it worse. It certainly stank.

I resolved to let it go—the water would make its way out naturally, in due time. I had to hurry up and wait, as the saying goes. But I couldn’t concentrate on anything else. Finally, in a fit of sheer desperation, I went to the drug store to see what they had to offer. I procured an ear wax clearing solution, speculating that my ear wax was trapping the water in there. I consulted the pharmacist, but she had no advice to offer that wasn’t already on the internet. Scary times we live in, when the internet is just as helpful as a real person.

First I tried the ear wax removal solution. This entailed putting it in the effected ear and lying down for about five minutes while the stuff helped loosen things up. When I stood up fluid seemed to be pouring out of my ear, but I couldn’t be sure if it was just the original solution, or liquefied wax. I felt underwhelmed. But trying to stay optimistic, I reasoned that this was merely step one—there was no longer wax blocking the water, but that water still needed help getting out. So Lewis got his make-shift alcohol dropper and doused my ear a second time. It was a failure and not only that, the pain was worse.

I felt defeated. Instead of going out for dinner, we ordered a pizza, and after eating I went to bed early.